Wallen told his love story to Congress this summer during a Senate hearing on the repeal of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prevents the federal government from recognizing Wallen's union, and now that his beloved Tom is gone, Wallen can't collect the Social Security survivor's benefit that any heterosexual widower simply would take for granted. He told the Senators:
With this rejection of Tom’s benefits, my reliable income went from $3,050 a month, down to $900 per month. To pay the mortgage and taxes each month on my home is $2,078. By spending some of our savings, I could have stayed there longer while planning next steps for my future. But you don’t have to be an accountant to see that from the first day after Tom passed away, I have had to worry about how I could pay that mortgage and support myself.
You may be thinking that lots of widows and widowers downsize, and make adjustments, after the loss of their spouse. Downsizing is one thing, but panic sale of a home which is underwater, is another. That is my current reality. I am selling the last house I shared with my husband in a panic sale because I can’t afford the mortgage and expenses. I am spending my days and nights sorting through our possessions, packing boxes to move — even while I am still answering the condolence cards that come in the mail.
Despite this pain and hardship, made worse by our nation's anti-gay bias written into federal law, it's clear Wallen wouldn't have done it differently. There was no way he would have left his dying husband's side, not even for a minute.
It is Ron Wallen, a gay man, who could teach Pat Robertson a thing or two about what a real "traditional marriage" is all about.